Anyone with experience in entrepreneurship or running a business will know you need to work extremely hard to succeed. However, it's important to know the difference between healthy hard work and pushing yourself to the point that your mental and physical wellbeing are suffering.
Burnout is a very real danger if you find that all your time and energy are being taken up by work. Common warning signs that you’re on your way to burning out include:
- Feeling overwhelmed by stress
- Difficulty sleeping
- Negativity and cynicism towards work
- Feeling that you have to be 'always on'
- Physical complaints like muscular aches and pains
So when it comes to achieving success as an entrepreneur, how do you ensure you're putting in the necessary hard work and hustle to get results, without burning out?
One effective way to protect yourself is by being aware of the most common causes of burnout, which include:
Not getting enough sleep
Sleep is a fundamental human requirement. If you're not getting enough of it, you won't have the necessary energy to complete even basic daily tasks, much less run a business.
Research has shown that lack of sleep impedes your judgment and can also lead to long-term health problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, anxiety and depression.
You can greatly reduce your risk of burnout by getting a solid seven to nine hours' sleep a night. For many people, this will mean placing a strict ban on phones, laptops and other electronic devices after a certain time in the evening.
Failing to look after your physical health
Like sleep, healthy eating and regular exercise are crucial if you want to keep yourself physically and mentally well enough to succeed in the demanding world of entrepreneurship.
As well as providing the fuel your mind and body need to operate efficiently, regular meals can also serve as breaks from work.
Exercising offers many benefits that can prove hugely valuable at work, such as reduced stress, higher confidence levels and a new sense of perspective.
Taking on too much work
When you're a growing business, it's tempting to say yes to every opportunity or offer of work that comes your way, without giving sufficient thought to the time and resources required to get the job done.
This can lead to overworking, stress and strained business relationships, all of which increase your risk of mental and physical burnout.
It's vital to take a practical, pragmatic attitude to how much work you're able to take on, and to be honest with clients about what targets and deadlines you can realistically achieve.
Not switching off
Modern technology has made it easier than ever to be constantly connected to work. This can have its benefits - when you need to keep in touch with colleagues or clients while travelling, for example - but it also presents risks such as feeling that you can never truly switch off.
Allowing yourself some down time, during which you completely disconnect from work and dedicate your energy to other things - whether it's a hobby, seeing friends and family or simply relaxing - is just as important as scheduling meetings, responding to emails or chasing leads.
Switching off recharges your batteries and replenishes your mental and physical energy, meaning you'll be at your best when you get back to work.
The word 'entrepreneur' might conjure up images of a singular pioneer who blazes a trail through the business world and pursues their own vision, but the truth is your chances of succeeding are much greater if you have a solid support network to rely on.
A strong, understanding group of family and friends can help you get through the toughest times in business by staying mentally positive, which massively reduces your risk of burnout.